Saffron Braised Purple Artichoke (Carciofo Viola Brasato allo Zafferano)

Spring is fleeting and in full force, so besides asparagus, ramps, and sunchokes,  I’ve been reveling in artichokes.  So far, this is my favorite way to enjoy them.  It’s a twist on this recipe, but more simple to prepare.

Don’t let the long cooking time dissuade you.  In fact, the long cooking time makes the recipe that much easier and more forgiving.  You can get the dish going before the rush of dinner prep and forget about it until it’s time to eat.  Simply set and forget- all you need to worry about is flipping the artichokes a couple of times during cooking.  I also love to make this on lazy Sundays as an appetizer that everyone can gather around, sopping up the juices with fresh bread while marveling at how soft and flavorful the leaves are- all that normally unattainable meat comes right off!

If you’re really afraid of anchovy, add a couple of whole green olives instead to get a similar salty/savory element.   That said, you really don’t taste anchovy in the end result- it just adds a nice umami flavor that balances the mellow sweetness of saffron.  So, I recommend you go for anchovy if you’ve ever enjoyed a Caesar salad or strive to become a centenarian


Gorgeous purple artichoke interior

Saffron Braised Purple Artichoke

Serves 4


2 artichokes, ideally purple or “sangria” variety

3-4 tablespoons high quality, good tasting olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1/2 anchovy fillet

1 greenhouse beefsteak tomato (the best way to enjoy fresh tomato in the spring), sliced 1/4″ thick

1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

2/3 cup dry white wine

good pinch saffron

a few grinds black pepper

1 lemon, cut into wedges

handful minced parsley

What to do:

Halve artichokes and remove pith.

Warm olive oil in a medium or large dutch oven and gently sauté garlic and anchovy over medium heat until garlic is golden.  Add tomato and salt. Continue to cook until tomato begins to soften and anchovy is mashable and incorporated into the sauce, about 5 minutes.

Add artichoke, white wine, saffron and black pepper.

Cover and simmer on lowest flame (ideally with a flame tamer) for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, flipping two or three times during cooking.  The artichokes should be starting to fall apart and, even then, you can keep it on another 30-40 minutes if you’re not quite ready to serve them.

Adjust for salt and finish with a good squeeze of lemon and some minced parsley.

Serve with a glass of wine and the highest quality crusty bread for soaking up those juices.

2 thoughts on “Saffron Braised Purple Artichoke (Carciofo Viola Brasato allo Zafferano)

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